Implementing a HACCP Plan to Address Audit Concerns in the Infused Market

The increasing appeal and public acceptance of medical and recreational cannabis has increased the focus on the possible food safety hazards of cannabis-infused products. Foodborne illnesses from edible consumption have become more commonplace, causing auditors to focus on the various stages of the supply chain to ensure that companies are identifying and mitigating risks throughout their operations. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans developed and monitored within a cannabis ERP software solution play an essential role in reducing common hazards in a market currently lacking federal regulation.

What are cannabis-infused products?

Cannabis infusions come in a variety of forms including edibles (food and beverages), tinctures (drops applied in the mouth), sprays (applied under the tongue), powders (dissolved into liquids) and inhalers. Manufacturing of these products resembles farm-to-fork manufacturing processes common in the food and beverage industry, in which best practices for compliance with food safety regulations have been established. Anticipated regulations in the seed-to-sale marketplace and consumer expectations are driving cannabis infused product manufacturers to adopt safety initiatives to address audit concerns.

What are auditors targeting in the cannabis space?

The cannabis auditing landscape encompasses several areas of focus to ensure companies have standard operating procedures (SOP’s) in place. These areas include:

  • Regulatory compliance – meeting state and local jurisdictional requirements
  • Storage and product release – identifying, storing and securing products properly
  • Seed-to-sale traceability –  lot numbers and plant identifiers
  • Product development – including risk analysis and release
  • Accurate labeling –  allergen statements and potency
  • Product sampling – pathogenic indicator and heavy metal testing
  • Water and air quality –  accounting for residual solvents, yeasts and mold
  • Pest control – pesticides and contamination

In addition, auditors commonly access the reliability of suppliers, quality of ingredients, sanitary handling of materials, cleanliness of facilities, product testing and cross-contamination concerns in the food and beverage industry, making these also important in cannabis manufacturers’ safety plans.

How a HACCP plan can help

HACCPWhether you are cultivating, harvesting, extracting or infusing cannabis into edible products, it is important to engage in proactive measures in hazard management, which include a HACCP plan developed by a company’s safety team. A HACCP plan provides effective procedures that protect consumers from hazards inherent in the production and distribution of cannabis-infused products – including biological, chemical and physical dangers. With the lack of federal regulation in the marketplace, it is recommended that companies adopt these best practices to reduce the severity and likelihood of compromised food safety.

Automating processes and documenting critical control points within an ERP solution prevents hazards before food safety is compromised. Parameters determined within the ERP system are utilized for identification of potential hazards before further contamination can occur. Applying best practices historically used by food and beverage manufacturers provides an enhanced level of food safety protocols to ensure quality, consistency and safety of consumables.

Hazards of cannabis products by life-cycle and production stage

Since the identification of hazards is the first step in HACCP plan development, it is important to identify potential issues at each stage. For cannabis-infused products, these include cultivation, harvesting, extraction and edibles production. Auditors expect detailed documentation of HACCP steps taken to mitigate hazards through the entire seed-to-sale process, taking into account transactions of cannabis co-products and finished goods at any stage.

Cultivation– In this stage, pesticides, pest contamination and heavy metals are of concern and should be adequately addressed. Listeria, E. coli, Salmonella and other bacteria can also be introduced during the grow cycle requiring that pathogenic indicator testing be conducted to ensure a bacteria-free environment.

Harvesting– Yeast and mold (aflatoxins) are possible during the drying and curing processes. Due to the fact that a minimal amount of moisture is optimal for prevention, testing for water activity is essential during harvesting.

Extraction – Residual solvents such as butane and ethanol are hazards to be addressed during extraction, as they are byproducts of the process and can be harmful. Each state has different allowable limits and effective testing is a necessity to prevent consumer exposure to dangerous chemical residues.

Edibles– Hazards in cannabis-infused manufacturing are similar to other food and beverage products and should be treated as such. A risk assessment should be completed for every ingredient (i.e. flour, eggs, etc.), with inherent hazards or allergens identified and a plan for addressing approved supplier lists, obtaining quality ingredients, sanitary handling of materials and cross-contamination.

GMPFollowing and documenting the HACCP plan through all of the stages is essential, including a sampling testing plan that represents the beginning, middle and end of each cannabis infused product. As the last and most important step before products are introduced to the market, finished goods testing is conducted to ensure goods are safe for consumption. All information is recorded efficiently within a streamlined ERP solution that provides real-time data to stakeholders across the organization.

Besides hazards that are specific to each stage in the manufacturing of cannabis-infused products, there are recurring common procedures throughout the seed-to-sale process that can be addressed using current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP’s).  cGMPs provide preventative measures for clean work environments, training, establishing SOPs, detecting product deviations and maintaining reliable testing. Ensuring that employees are knowledgeable of potential hazards throughout the stages is essential.Lacking, inadequate or undocumented training in these areas are red flags for auditors who subscribe to the philosophy of “if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen.” Training, re-training (if necessary) and documented information contained within cannabis ERP ensures that companies are audit-ready. 

Labeling

The importance of proper labeling in the cannabis space cannot be understated as it is a key issue related to product inconsistency in the marketplace. Similar to the food and beverage industry, accurate package labeling, including ingredient and allergen statements, should reflect the product’s contents. Adequate labeling to identify cannabis products and detailed dosing information is essential as unintentional ingestion is a reportable foodborne illness. Integrating an ERP solution with quality control checks and following best practices ensures product labeling remains compliant and transparent in the marketplace.

Due to the inherent hazards of cannabis-infused products, it’s necessary for savvy cannabis companies to employ the proper tools to keep their products and consumers safe. Utilizing an ERP solution that effectively manages HACCP plans meets auditing requirements and helps to keep cannabis operations one step ahead of the competition.

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Illinois Governor Announces Plan to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis

Last weekend, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced the introduction of a bill that would legalize adult-use cannabis, allowing medical dispensaries to begin sales for anyone over the age of 21. According to the Chicago Sun Times, the major focus for Governor Pritzker on legalizing cannabis is on things like social equity and criminal justice.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker

Rather than touting the tax dollars that could be raised, like other state governments are often eager to highlight, Governor Pritzker’s announcement was about racial equality and helping those disproportionately affected by the drug war. “We are taking a major step forward to legalize adult use cannabis and to celebrate the fact that Illinois is going to have the most equity-centric law in the nation,” Governor Pritzker told members of the media during a press conference. “For the many individuals and families whose lives have been changed, indeed hurt, because the nation’s war on drugs discriminated against people of color, this day belongs to you, too.”

The legislation includes a provision for automatically expunging about 80,000 convictions related to cannabis, allowing those with convictions to work in the newly-legal Illinois cannabis industry. It also includes a provision for license applicants to be designated as social equity applicants, where lawmakers are hoping to encourage minority-owned business growth. They plan on waiving fees as well as helping social equity applicants get better access to capital and business loans.

This is not the first time that Democrats in the Illinois state legislature have attempted to legalize adult-use cannabis. Back in 2017, state Representative Kelly Cassidy and state Senator Heather Steans, the two lawmakers sponsoring this bill, sponsored a legalization bill that failed to garner support. Back in late January of 2019, Governor Pritzker, Rep. Cassidy and Sen. Steans announced their plans for legalization. Introducing this bill to the legislature this week takes their plans and the state of Illinois one step closer to adult use legalization.

During the press conference, Sen. Steans mentioned they want to make sure revenue from the new market will benefit residents of Illinois. According to the Chicago Sun Times, the bill allows for 25% of tax revenue would go to helping those disproportionately affected by the drug war and 20% would go to mental health and substance abuse treatment.

That revenue, an estimated $170 million, will mainly come from licensing fees in 2020. Cannabis products with less than 35% THC content would be taxed at a fixed 10% rate, while products with more than 35% THC would be taxed at 20%. The bill would also allow people in Illinois to grow up to five plants at home.

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Denver Residents to Vote on Decriminalizing Psilocybin Mushrooms

Denver residents who go to the polls on Tuesday will have an opportunity to vote on the decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms in the city. If the initiative is successful, Denver would become the first city in the United States to pass an ordinance effectively decriminalizing the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms.

The ballot measure, known as I-301, would amend Denver’s municipal code to make possession of psilocybin mushrooms by adults 21 and older the city’s lowest law enforcement priority. It would also prohibit the city from spending public resources to impose criminal penalties on adults for using or possessing mushrooms and establish a city panel to determine the effects of the new ordinance.

Decriminalize Denver, the group campaigning for the passage of I-301, is led by campaign manager Kevin Matthews, who had to leave the U.S. Military Academy at West Point due to major depression. His struggle continued for years, until he tried psilocybin for the first time.

“It was one of the most profound experiences in my life,” he said. “It cleared the fog and lasted for weeks and weeks after. It enabled me to see outside the box of my own depression.”

Although there is no organized opposition to I-301, both Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and District Attorney Beth McCann have said they are against the proposed ordinance.

“At this point, I don’t think it’s a good idea,” McCann said. “We’re still figuring out marijuana, and even though things are going well so far, we’re still measuring the impacts on the people of Denver.”

Psilocybin for Mental Health

Research into the therapeutic uses of psilocybin is ongoing, according to Matthews.

“This measure is backed by strong medical data,” he said. “There is clearly a psychedelic renaissance underway, and we wanted to open a grass-roots campaign to address this issue.”

A study of terminally ill cancer patients was conducted at Johns Hopkins University in 2016 by Dr. Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral biology. He said that researchers found that treatment with psilocybin can result in a significant improvement in the mental well-being of patients.

“The most interesting and remarkable finding is that a single dose of psilocybin, which lasts four to six hours, produced enduring decreases in depression and anxiety symptoms, and this may represent a fascinating new model for treating some psychiatric conditions,” said Griffiths.

Six months after psilocybin treatment, 80 percent of the patients in the study showed significant decreases in anxiety and depression. Increases in well-being were reported by 83 percent of patients, while two-thirds said the treatment session was one of the five most meaningful experiences in their lives.

Griffiths said that the results of the study were even better than he anticipated.

“Before beginning the study, it wasn’t clear to me that this treatment would be helpful, since cancer patients may experience profound hopelessness in response to their diagnosis, which is often followed by multiple surgeries and prolonged chemotherapy,” he said. “I could imagine that cancer patients would receive psilocybin, look into the existential void and come out even more fearful. However, the positive changes in attitudes, moods and behavior that we documented in healthy volunteers were replicated in cancer patients.”

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Governor of Illinois Reveals Plan to Legalize Recreational Cannabis

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker ran on a pro-pot platform and made cannabis legalization a priority when elected to office last year. Now, it seems like he may be making good on his promises to voters; local news channel WQAD 8 reports that on Saturday in Chicago, Pritzker announced that he’s “reached an agreement with key lawmakers” on a measure that would make it legal for adults 21 years and up to purchase marijuana.

If approved by policy makers, Pritzker said the plan could go into effect by the beginning of next year, with licenses issued to growing operations, processing sites, and dispensaries by May to July of 2020.

He said that debate will be opened in the state legislature on the measure starting Monday.

The plan also includes proposals to alleviate the negative effects that decades of the Drug War have left on some of Illinois’ most vulnerable communities. Low interest loans would be provided to cannabis entrepreneurs who are or who have been residents of neighborhoods that suffered from elevated levels of cannabis policing, via a proposed $20 million program. Also eligible for the financial boost would be individuals who have certain kinds of cannabis-related offenses on their criminal record — and many of those would be eligible for automatic expungement via Pritzker’s plan.

“This bill advances equity by providing resources and second chances to people and communities that have been harmed by policies such as the failed ‘war on drugs,’” commented Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, who joined a group of other Illinois lawmakers in attendance at Pritzker’s announcement.

There is also a plan for the expected $170 million windfall that opening up the recreational industry could pull in licensing fees for the state. The governor’s office explained that of this sum, 35 percent would go to Illinois’ general operating plan, and another 25 percent to a “Restoring Our Communities” fund — again, to aid communities that experienced hardship during cannabis prohibition, or in the words of the governmental office, “have suffered the most because of discriminatory drug policies.” 10 percent would go to pay past expenses incurred by the state, and the remainder to programs that provide mental health aid, addiction treatment, law enforcement, and educational campaigns.

The plan is not the only proposal that has been fielded by the Illinois House of Representatives this year when it comes to regulating adult use marijuana. In January, House Bill 902 (which would allow for adults to cultivate up to 24 plants at home) was introduced. That bill has picked up new co-sponsors and seen steady movement over the last few months, and would send 30 percent of state tax from cannabis sales to school funding.

Should lawmakers prove amenable to the legalization measure, Illinois will have to greatly expand the number of cannabis growers who are currently producing marijuana for the state’s medical program. A report released in March found that current growers’ output would only meet 35 to 44 percent of the recreational market’s demands.

Illinois politicians first approved a pilot medical marijuana program in 2013, which is set to last through mid-2020 in its current form. Last year, lawmakers voted to expand access to the program to people suffering from opioid addiction.

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Vancouver Lawyers Find Roadside Drug Testing Kits Yield Frequent False Positives

A Vancouver attorney has found that the only device approved for roadside drug tests in Canada is subject to frequently yielding false positive results. Kyla Lee, a lawyer with the firm Acumen Law, says that the Drager Drug Test 5000 had indicated the presence of drugs including cannabis, opiates, and cocaine after test subjects had used products legal and easily obtained in Canada. The Drager 5000 was approved to conduct roadside screenings for drug impairment in concert with the legalization of cannabis in Canada last year.

Lee said that the device was unable to differentiate between THC and CBD, leading to saliva screenings yielding false positive results from people who had only consumed non-psychoactive cannabidiol.

“We found there was a retention period of half an hour. It was still found in the mouth even though there were no lingering effects in the body,” she said.

Lee also found that people who had consumed common baked goods subsequently returned positive results for other controlled substances that could cause driving impairment.

“We had several individuals eat poppy seed loaf from Tim Hortons and poppy seed cake they made at home. All of those people tested positive in the saliva test for opiates, and later tested positive in subsequent urine tests,” Lee said.

False Positive Results Could Lead to Arrest

She noted that such false positive results could have significant consequences in an actual roadside screening by law enforcement.

“So if a police officer were to pull those people over and gave them a saliva test, they would be arrested,” Lee said.

Other test subjects who had used coca tea had positive results for cocaine returned by the Drager 5000. Coca tea is commonly available in Canada and is made from the same plant that is processed into cocaine.

“That’s so concerning because in our legal system we have a zero-tolerance threshold for cocaine,” Lee said. “Any detectable amount of cocaine in your system means you’re guilty of a criminal offense.”

“People who are wanting to try different kinds of tea are now at risk of being charged with impaired driving,” she added. “It’s another example of how the government really failed in approving this device.”

The Drager 5000 has also received other criticism, including complaints that the device does not function properly in cold weather. Although it is currently the only device approved for roadside drug screenings by the federal government, many law enforcement agencies including the Vancouver Police Department have declined to deploy the machines. A second device, the SoToxa system, has been recommended for approval by a government panel. Lee said that the Drager 5000 should either be improved or recalled.

“We need to put more effort in this country into finding a device that can tell the difference between something that’s impairing a person and something that’s merely present in their system,” she said.

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10 mitos ridículos sobre las drogas

La marihuana puede tener efectos secundarios que amenazan la vida. Por ejemplo, el otro día, accidentalmente pedí dos  porciones de alas con mi pizza en lugar de solo una. Casi me muero de la delicia.

Y los psicodélicos también deben evitarse a toda costa. Debes saber que una vez  consumí LSD y compré un montón de camisetas teñidas. Pero después me dí cuenta que eran simplemente blancas.

Desde los gatos que son condenados a estar todo el tiempo drogados, a tatuajes con dosis de LSD, a la teoría de escape, ¡los hemos escuchado todo!

Como Lee Hopcraft, un organizador de la Cumbre BUD en Washington, DC, dijo a High Times: “Es una droga de entrada, pero no una puerta de acceso al infierno; ¡es una puerta de entrada a nuevas experiencias!”

Asi es, Lee! Por eso aquí  te tenemos las 10 leyendas urbanas acerca de las drogas que son totalmente mentira.

  1. Si tu gato consume o se droga, seguirá con personalidad de drogado por siempre.

En el cumpleaños de mi gato, le regalé una planta de hierba gatera. (mi Mamá tiene sus plantitas; la gatita tiene la suya). La hierba gatera es una cosa, pero ¿qué pasa con los gatos y la marihuana? Seamos honestos: algunos de ustedes, dueños de mascotas, han soplado  un plum de marihuana en los oídos de su gatito. Según el veterinario y acupunturista veterinario certificado Patrick Mahaney, los gatos se ponen “high”.
“Si un gato inhala o ingiere cannabis, puede experimentar euforia como resultado del THC y sentir un efecto calmante  y alivio del dolor con CDB”, dice Mahaney.

Al igual que nosotros, el nivel de  efecto de la marihuana de un gato dependerá de los niveles de THC, del peso y de cuánto consume. Obviamente, cuando estás re eufórico y tu gato también, lo último que quieres escuchar es que tu amigo felino quedará frito para siempre.

¡No te preocupes, fanáticos locos de los gatos! Si nuestros gatitos están demasiado drogados, solo tienen que esperar.

“Con el tiempo, el efecto se disipará a medida que el cuerpo metabolice el THC y el CDB a través del hígado, los riñones y otros sistemas de órganos, y el gato ya no deberá experimentar las sensaciones de euforia o alivio del dolor y sedación”, dice Mahaney. “El gato no debería tener una sensación constante de estar drogado”.

Solo ten cuidado y manten tu marihuana sólo para ti !

acid, LSD, psychedelics
Photo by Getty Images

2. El LSD te enviará a un manicomio.

Es irónico, dado que el LSD es fenomenal para la expansión de la mente, permitiendo a los usuarios ser más empáticos, emocionalmente inteligentes y de mente abierta. A diferencia de la imagen que la policía ha perpetuado durante mucho tiempo, que si ingieres demasiado, te volverás loco.

Revelación completa: lo máximo que he tomado al mismo tiempo son tres papelitos y medio. Pero para asegurar la falsedad de esta leyenda urbana, le pregunté a un amigo con el nombre de Keys, que accidentalmente bebió casi toda una botella de líquido LSD, sobre la experiencia.

Keys no terminó encerrado, pero se tropezó durante días y se hizo muy buen amigo de los animales callejeros de su vecindario.

“Fue bastante loco, perdí completamente mi sentido del yo”, recuerda. Entonces, si vas a consumir una cantidad inmensa de ácido, la única preocupación real es tener un horario claro.

3. Si le preguntas a un policía encubierto si él (o ella) es un policía, tienen que decírtelo.

Si tan solo este mito fuera cierto. Como me dijo un abogado: “Si está encubierto, está encubierto”.

Además, si te detienen o te arrestan, solo hay una buena manera de hablar con la policía: no hacerlo. No respondas a ninguna pregunta y llama a un abogado.

4. El LSD te hace pensar que eres jugo de naranja.

Esta leyenda urbana resurgió en las redes sociales a principios de este año. Es otra variación extraña en la mentira de que el LSD te volverá loco.

Aparentemente, un hombre, en algún lugar, de alguna manera, tomó tanto LSD que pensó que estaba hecho de jugo de naranja. Si los guerreros antidrogas piensan que esta historia disuadirá a los niños de probar el LSD, se equivocan. ¿Por qué no les dices que creerás que eres un montón de caca seca y rancia? Quiero decir, ¿quién no querría pensar que son jugo de naranja? ¡El jugo de naranja es delicioso! Y el jugo de naranja también es fresco, ¡es como naranja! Y “la naranja” es demasiado cool para rimar con cualquier cosa. Quiero ser jugo de naranja!

5. La Marihuana almacenada en tus células grasas causará flashbacks.

¿De dónde viene esto? Al igual que los buzzkills cantados sobre el ácido que se oculta en su columna vertebral, una generación ha sido advertida de que el cannabis hiberna en sus células de grasa, como un volcán inactivo, en erupción cuando menos lo espera en forma de flashback. Por supuesto, no hay evidencia científica que respalde esto, y ninguna para el rumor de LSD similar.

En 2009, los científicos inyectaron THC a ratas y luego las sometieron a situaciones de estrés severo e inanición para ver si esas experiencias horribles desencadenaron una liberación tardía de THC. Descubrieron que el estrés posiblemente podría volver a liberar algo de THC del consumo anterior, pero no lo suficiente como para drenar sus depósitos de grasa. Los usuarios humanos que han reportado “flashbacks” parecen haberlos experimentado después del ejercicio y en realidad solo estaban disfrutando de “el éxtasis del corredor” (¡A veces vale la pena levantarse del sofá!).

Para aquellos propensos a la paranoia, un ataque de pánico puede hacerte sentir que has perdido un poco el contacto con la realidad. Entonces, si te sometes a lo que se siente como un flashback de cannabis, tal vez tus endorfinas estén disparando por el ejercicio, o tal vez estés experimentando un ataque de ansiedad. O tal vez acabas de fumar una articulación tan gorda que olvidaste que la fumaste.

6. Los extraños les dan a los niños caramelos de marihuana en Halloween.

¿Recuerdas cuando eras niño y tus padres te advirtieron sobre extraños que escondían cuchillas de afeitar dentro de manzanas de caramelo en Halloween? Bueno, los guerreros antidrogas informan que se está repartiendo algo aún más aterrador: ¡el cannabis!

El año pasado, agencias gubernamentales en estados legales como Washington y Colorado emitieron advertencias a los padres acerca de productos comestibles con cannabis disfrazados de golosinas. ¿Qué realmente pasó?

Um, nada … no hubo casos reportados de ingesta de cannabis relacionada con Halloween por parte de niños.

7. MDMA hace agujeros en tu cerebro.
Relájate, tu cerebro no está lleno de agujeros estilo queso suizo como el policía retirado te dijo que sería durante una presentación de PowerPoint en tu gimnasio de la escuela secundaria. Pero si sientes que tu cerebro está siendo consumido, es probable que estos rumores falsos contra las drogas te hayan convertido en un frenético caso.

En pocas palabras, la MDMA no causa agujeros en el cerebro humano. “Es gracioso que todavía haya uno por ahí”, dice Lauren Austin Ciovacco, directora de operaciones y asistencia a la comunidad de Medicinal Mindfulness, una organización que brinda servicios de atención plena a las personas que consumen drogas psicodélicas y cannabis. Ciovacco cree que la leyenda del agujero del cerebro se originó a partir de la verdad de que la MDMA tiene un impacto en los niveles de axones de serotonina, por lo que te hace sentir increíble.

Además, incluso la DEA dio luz verde a los ensayos médicos en MDMA como tratamiento para el trastorno de estrés postraumático. La MDMA podría permitir a los veteranos enfrentar los recuerdos negativos sin sentirse abrumados por el temor, ayudándoles así a lidiar con su trauma.

8.  Los Cigarrillos Lucky Strikes contenían hierba
Imagínese si, cada vez que Don Draper encendiera un cigarrillo en Mad Men, en realidad se estuviera fumando un porro. Probablemente habría bebido mucho menos y hubiera tenido muchos menos problemas. ¡Lamentablemente no!

El mito es que fumar uno de estos fue un “golpe de suerte” porque realmente fumabas marihuana. Además, el eslogan en el paquete decía: “Está tostado”. Pero eso se refería al tabaco, no a la sensación de drogadicción que todos conocemos y amamos.

9. Los narcotraficantes les dan a los niños tatuajes temporales hechos con LSD.
En la década de 1970, se difundieron advertencias como el herpes de que se estaban distribuyendo entre los niños tatuajes temporales que parecían sellos de correos y con una carga secreta de LSD. Parece que muchas leyendas urbanas sobre el cannabis y los psicodélicos se basan en la premisa de que la gente realmente quiere regalar sus drogas. ¡Lo que demuestra es cuán cuadrada y desesperadamente cuadrada fue la guerra contra los traficantes de drogas para hacer esta mierda en primer lugar! De todos los productos químicos recreativos, el LSD es el que mejor invoca un sentido de comunidad y unidad, pero mis amigos todavía me hacen pagar por mis fichas.

10. La marihuana es una droga “de escape”.
Guardamos la leyenda urbana más grande y más dañina para el final. Nos complace anunciar, de manera categórica e inequívoca, que la marihuana no es una droga de escape. Los factores que llevan al uso de drogas fuertes son cosas como la pobreza, las enfermedades mentales, el entorno social deficiente y la asociación con personas que consumen drogas fuertes. Por supuesto, la vieja prohibición y la criminalización son también muy responsables.

Irónicamente, el cannabis es muy probable que sea una droga de escape inversa. Los profesionales de la salud consideran que es altamente beneficiosa para la reducción de daños, lo que ayuda a los pacientes a romper las adicciones a drogas peligrosas como los opiáceos. De hecho, el médico de cannabis de Colorado, Wendy Zaharko, informa: “Muchos pacientes acuden a mí y me dicen que el cannabis fue útil para eliminar la metanfetamina o la heroína”.

Así que ahí lo tienen. Órdenes del médico: ¡Relájate y fuma un porro!

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Pharmaceutical Company CEO Found Guilty of Bribing Doctors to Prescribe Opioids

Former pharmaceutical company CEO John Kapoor was convicted of racketeering by a jury in Boston last week in a scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe opioids. Four other executives of Insys, the drug firm founded by Kapoor, were also found guilty in the case after a 10-week trial and 15 days of jury deliberations.

“Today’s convictions mark the first successful prosecution of top pharmaceutical executives for crimes related to the illicit marketing and prescribing of opioids,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling in a statement. “Just as we would street-level drug dealers, we will hold pharmaceutical executives responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic by recklessly and illegally distributing these drugs, especially while conspiring to commit racketeering along the way.”

“This is a landmark prosecution that vindicated the public’s interest in staunching the flow of opioids into our homes and streets,” he added.

Company Pushed Powerful Opioid

During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Kapoor and his co-defendants had engaged in a marketing plan that included phony speaking fees and parties at strip clubs and expensive restaurants to entice doctors to prescribe the Insys medication Subsys. The drug is an oral spray containing fentanyl, a powerful opioid that is nearly 100 times stronger than morphine.

Subsys was approved by the FDA to relieve the pain of terminal cancer patients. But Insys executives and sales representatives encouraged doctors to prescribe the drug for patients living with chronic pain, a far larger pool of potential customers. Employees of the company even posed as doctors, submitting bogus diagnoses to insurance companies to pay for Subsys, which can cost as much as $20,000 per month.

Kickbacks Paid to Doctors

Prosecutors called 39 witnesses to testify in the trial, including Gavin Awerbuch, a Michigan doctor who has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for prescribing Subsys to patients who didn’t need it. Awerbuch told the jury that he had made more than $130,000 over 18 months for educational speaking engagements that were often attended by friends and neighbors when other doctors wouldn’t come.

“They were a farce really,’’ said Awerbuch. “It was just easy money for me. I got paid $1,600 to show up, have a nice meal and go home.’’

Another doctor was rewarded with $36,000 in speaking fees and a trip to Arizona that included two $500 sessions in a strip club’s “champagne room.”

Brad Bailey, a Boston criminal defense attorney who followed the trial, told NPR that the severity of the nation’s ongoing opioid crisis led federal prosecutors to the uncommon step of charging corporate executives.

“That’s always unusual. That’s always an attention grabber,” said Bailey. “The big issue is the use of racketeering charges, which had been originally designed to go after the Mafia.”

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Philadelphia District Attorney Won’t Prosecute Cannabis DUIs

The District Attorney for Philadelphia announced at a legislative hearing on Monday that he will not prosecute cases of driving under the influence of cannabis. At a joint meeting of the Democratic Policy committees at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said that his office would not prosecute cannabis DUIs “unless people show active — I repeat, active — psychoactive amounts of cannabis in their system that rise to a level which has generally scientifically been agreed upon as affecting driving.” Such an agreed upon standard does not currently exist.

Current Law is ‘Absurd’

“What that law currently says is that if there is any detectable amount of digested marijuana in your system, then you are DUI,” Krasner said. “So in other words, if I smoked a joint 30 days ago, it has absolutely no psychoactive effect whatsoever on anything I am doing, and I drive a car, then I am driving under the influence. This is absurd.”

Krasner said that Pennsylvania’s current cannabis laws are “dumb.”

“It has been the law in Pennsylvania forever. It is on a collision course with our medical marijuana, which is going to tell people medically it’s OK for you to take this for the various neuropathy or other forms of disease that you have, but somehow you can’t drive,” he said. “It’s absurd and it’s indicative of what we have gotten from the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.”

Krasner was reacting to testimony at the hearing from John T. Adams, the Berks County District Attorney and president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, who was arguing against the legalization of cannabis in Pennsylvania.

“Recreational marijuana is not safe or harmless,” Adams said. “Our opposition stems from science, research and data, as well as information from our addiction specialists.”

But Krasner, who characterized the District Attorneys Association as the group that “gave us an 800 percent increase in jail population,” said that it is “not really relying on science.”

“They’re relying on pseudoscience, which has been a well-funded industry to prosecute this, because people make money — including criminal defense attorneys — make money when it is prosecuted,” said Krasner.

Prosecutors Support Decriminalization

Adams said that while the District Attorneys Association is against the legalization of cannabis, it does support legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“Such legislation would help clear cases from the criminal docket and allow law enforcement officials to focus on other matters,” Adams said.

“We consider this a smart, commonsense approach.”

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Post Malone Reportedly Launching Cannabis Company Called Shaboink

Dissatisfied with resting on his laurels as one of Middle America’s favorite hip-pop artists, rapper Post Malone is starting a line of marijuana products. TMZ reports that the collection will be named after “a slang term for ‘the act of two people fornicating in a wild spontaneous fashion.’” Don’t rush away to Urban Dictionary on us — that term is “shaboink.”

What will Shaboink bring to your world? TMZ’s sources said it is a “line of flower, pre-roll joints, and vaporizers.” Those attending last weekend’s Hall of Flowers expo in Santa Rosa reportedly got a sneak peek of the goods — including a line of swag like branded grinders, rolling papers, hats, and stickers — but products won’t be hitting dispensary shelves until the Beerbongs & Bentleys rapper’s birthday on July 4th. The cannabis will allegedly by produced by California’s Hemper — which only kind of makes sense, since Hemper mainly distributes paraphernalia.

Will you be smoking the alleged weed of the man music critic Jeff Weiss once called “a Halloween rental, a removable platinum grill, a Cubic Zirconium proposal on the jumbo screen of a last-place team,” who “makes Macklemore look like Mac Dre”? Rest assured, someone’s going to be buying it; peruse Post Malone’s merch store to see that there may be a market for anything the man chooses to put his name on, from soccer balls to flashlights.  

When California voted to legalize recreational marijuana with 2016’s Proposition 64, the artist was queried on his views, again by TMZ; “This is good for everybody!” he said. “Weed is good for everybody. Ain’t nobody died from that shit. People die from drinking and driving every day.”

The rapper is launching his marijuana career in the middle of quite a streak of commercial success. Post Malone is currently on a world tour with the songs off of his latest album, and took the stage at this year’s Grammys ceremony to perform. His “Sunflower” single with Swae Lee off the Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse soundtrack went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in January. It was Post Malone’s third hit to rise to the top of the charts, after 2017’s “Rockstar” and 2018’s “Psycho.”  

Why not add cannabis to such a resume, some might ask?

Post Malone wasn’t the only rapper to present their proprietary cannabis line at the expo. ET Canada reports that other celebrities hawking their weed wares included talk show host Chelsea Handler and The Game, who has been in the marijuana game for several years via his Trees By Game line of flowers. The rapper, an early celebrity entrant into the cannabis industry, flipped his Santa Ana dispensary The Reserve in 2017 for a smooth $7 million. A few years ago, The Game sat down with High Times to talk about his long-standing involvement in the cannabis community.

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The Initiative Is Building Gender Equity in Cannabis

I meet Amy Margolis at The Commune, her plant-filled, exposed-brick coworking space with floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights, located in Portland’s Old Town. The majority of people huddled around tables in a large meeting room are women who run emerging cannabusinesses, which makes the shared office look as if it’s The Wing for weed.

But this isn’t your typical coworking set up; all of the companies that work at The Commune are part of the first cohort of The Initiative, a startup accelerator program for women-owned ventures in cannabis.

“The main barrier to equity is the traditional influx of capital,” Margolis says. “The more you see traditional capital and traditional business people — primarily white men — in cannabis, the more you see women and POC being pushed to the fringes. It makes it very hard as a capital-intensive business, when we know that white men primarily fund other white men.”

Margolis spent years as a criminal defense attorney, and gradually found herself taking on more and more cannabis clients — leading her to found the Oregon Cannabis Association in 2014. When Oregon legalized recreational sales to adults in 2015, Margolis took stock of the rapidly-expanding industry and saw an equity gap — not just in terms of gender, but also in terms of racial and LGBTQ equity among industry leaders.

The Initiative came together quickly; what was just an idea in May 2018 grew into the coworking space that August, followed by an October retreat. The Initiative’s first accelerator round began this January with eight startups, a board packed with industry leaders, and an investor pool pledged to provide “follow-on funding” upon program completion.  

The day I visit, Margolis is helping the cohort prepare for The Initiative’s penultimate assignment: pitching investors at the Arcview Investor Forum in Vancouver, Canada. Margolis is perched on a cushy leather sectional, her feet propped on a coffee table and a laptop balanced on her knees as she reviews the upcoming agenda. Seated in a wide circle around her are founders from businesses like Barbari, Hana Medicinals, Leif Goods, Make & Mary, Mendi, Orevape, and a new project from the women’s cannabis network Tokeativity. Not every business in the cohort is at this meeting; some are based in far-flung cities like Oakland but will join the group in Vancouver.

Angele, the Commune’s manager and Margolis’s executive assistant, comes into the room with printed copies of the pitch decks that each business will present at Arcview, reminding the founders to send her any updates since they won’t be running their own audio-visuals at the event. Margolis is reminding people that if they are driving to Vancouver instead of flying, they should be prepared to explain to immigration why they have, for example, a car full of CBD literature.

Someone calls out, “remember your business cards.”

Some of the reminders might seem redundant to anyone who has been running a venture capital-based business for years. But for underrepresented groups launching businesses for the first time, these little clues are vital keys that help unlock doors in a white male-dominated industry.

“The cohort will come away with a network,” says Margolis. “They’re coming away with some more confidence in themselves. If I hope for anything we’ve done here — it’s everything they think about doing something, take that and multiply it times 20. Think bigger, move faster, be cocky. Women don’t hear that enough.”

Over The Initiative’s three-month program, founders learn everything from how to talk with investors to how to make sales and prepare for nationwide expansion. Most of the founders have day jobs, or are slowly building up to devoting themselves to cannabis full-time.

Valarie Sakota and Meryl Montgomery, founders of the herbal smoking blend company Barbari, are in the early days of operating their business full-time. Meryl left a digital content strategy career behind in 2018, and Valerie quit her advertising job this February. The partners introduced their herbal smoking blends on the market last year. But since the accelerator began, they’ve gained a huge network, new skills, and no small amount of clout.

“We’ve been able to get a lot of strategic guidance in building out our business plan over the next few years,” says Meryl. “And being able to have a constructive place to practice for things like pitches, but also having them help find or weak spots. It’s been a really collaborative process.”

A Mendi meeting with Rachael Rapinoe (first on the right); Mary Emily O’Hara

While network-building is the biggest perk for established businesses already making sales, other cohort members are still in the early stages. Mendi hopes to have its cannabis pain-management products on the market in July. And while gummies and salves may not be unheard of on the existing legal market, Mendi is aiming for a different kind of customer: professional athletes. And with retired soccer star Rachael Rapinoe (sister of U.S. Women’s National Team forward Megan Rapinoe) at the helm, networking is the least of Mendi’s needs.

“What makes Mendi unique is we have a pretty robust team of five co-founders, but we also have a pro athlete ecosystem we are working with for research and development feedback,” says Rapinoe. “We have an opportunity to leverage the platform of athletes to challenge the stigma of cannabis and disrupt the pain relief market.”

Mendi’s biggest barrier, Rapinoe says, is the stigma against cannabis in sports. But while some drugs are looked down upon, traditional pain medicine is overused — and the opioid crisis has hit pro athletes as hard as the rest of the nation. Rapinoe has seen the problem firsthand, and Mendi’s mission of expanding healthier pain management options is personal for her.

“We’ve seen opioids being passed out to pro athletes like they’re candy, for far too long,” says Rapinoe. “It’s happened to myself, to members of my family, to teammates, and to many pro athletes that I grew up admiring. If I can make a small change in the opioid crisis for pro athletes as well as the other active people in pain, that’s something I will dedicate my life to.”

It’s this kind of overarching social good mission that Margolis looks for when choosing companies for The Initiative. Among the first cohort is Urbn Cirque, an Oakland-based startup working to increase equity and representation of the communities most impacted by marijuana prohibition. The black-owned company sells sesh kits that feature cannabis products made by underrepresented minorities, and that incorporate history and cultural information so consumers can learn about things like “Teapads” — private homes in Depression-era Harlem where marijuana could be bought and smoked. Other cohort companies do their giving back financially; Barbari donates 5 percent of all sales to FIERCE, a New York-based member organization for young LGBTQ people of color.

“This is a pretty progressive industry borne out of a social justice movement. That should be remembered and that work should be carried on,” says Margolis.

In cannabis, as a young industry builds its foundation for what will likely soon be a national infrastructure, there’s an opportunity to glue social equity into the basic framework. Right now, Margolis sometimes struggles to capture investment interest based on gender equity and social good alone — “I have to rephrase it as ‘unique deal flow,’ and then they’re interested” — but she’d like to see industry leaders become more dedicated to inclusivity for its own sake. And she says small businesses are in a more powerful position than they sometimes realize: acquisition targets can tell larger companies that if they want to buy them out, for example, they have to put more women and people of color on the board.

“This program can make a difference but it can’t make all of the difference,” Margolis says. This industry can be anything it wants. You have to say ‘I’m going to make a commitment to make sure this looks more equitable.’”

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